COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What's happening Friday, May 22
'We do need to be grateful and we need to be thankful'
P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said the province is coming out of its first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic at an emotional news conference on Friday.
"We do need to be grateful and we need to be thankful," Morrison said, her voice breaking as she became emotional.
Morrison said the province has made a big difference in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
"I am hopeful as we go forward we will be able to connect with loved ones," she said, adding she hopes sports and church gatherings will be able to resume before long.
King tells critics not to direct anger at Morrison
Before Morrison spoke, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King also became emotional when talking about some of the criticism the province and Morrison have faced.
King said he knows some people are afraid to reopen the province to seasonal residents.
I'm not upset to be criticized or scrutinized. That's my job. I am the premier.— Premier Dennis King
He said he has "been called things that would make a sailor blush" and reminded Islanders not to direct their anger toward Morrison.
"Nothing that we will do will ever be more important than the health and safety of Islanders. I'm not upset to be criticized or scrutinized. That's my job. I am the premier," he said. "When I get upset is when they target individuals, high-calibre, like Dr. Morrison."
King said he thinks Islanders can and should do better and he stands by the decision to allow seasonal residents into the province.
"We cannot and must not be paralyzed by these fears," King said. "We must have a realistic understanding of what lies ahead."
King said easing back restrictions was "never a process to go back to normal," because he said he doesn't know what the new normal will be.
He said the province is working toward being ready for a second wave of COVID-19, which could hit the province in the fall.
"At any time we can and will, if we have to, pull back and reinstate the restrictions in the interest of public health."
Long-term home visitation?
P.E.I.'s chief of nursing Marion Dowling said starting Monday more surgeries and procedures will be added to Health PEI services, and if treatment is being rebooked, patients will be called by Health PEI.
Visitors are still not allowed in long-term care homes unless it is for compassionate reasons, she said.
"We do continue to assess those protocols for long-term care homes," she said. "We do have an approach for Health PEI's long term-care homes that will look to allow some limited designated visits in a controlled way."
She said those protocols will be looked at and implemented in the next few weeks for those in the province and family wanting to visit on compassionate grounds.
Dowling reminded Islanders if they have symptoms of COVID-19 to call 811 to arrange to be tested.
Morrison said as the province moves forward with easing back restrictions, public health officials will recommend that Islanders wear non-medical masks more often, in certain situations.
"Non-medical masks are not to protect yourself but may protect others. They are to be used when physical distancing is not possible," she said.
P.E.I. has had 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19. All have recovered.
Phase 2 of the easing of pandemic restrictions started Friday.
People line up for a hair cut on Kent Street in Charlottetown. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)
The P.E.I. Legislature will hold its first sitting Tuesday since the start of the pandemic, and there have been some changes made.
Some provincial government services reopened to the public Friday as part of Phase 2.
A release from the province said government offices that are reopening to the public have put protocols in place to ensure public health measures, such as maintaining physical distancing, are followed. That may mean longer wait times for some services.
Access PEI locations in Souris, Summerside, Charlottetown and O'Leary will now be open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the release said.
Access PEI will also be adapting to better support seniors. Tuesday mornings from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. will be for those over the age of 60 until further notice.
The provincial government also has a list of what is reopening and when on its website.
King also defended the decision to allow seasonal residents to begin the pre-approval process to enter the province on June 1 during a Facebook Live Q&A with Morrison hosted by CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.
New forecasting from the province projects a scenario that could see as many as 27 of P.E.I.'s critical care beds filled with COVID-19 patients.
P.E.I.'s Green Party is calling proposed amendments to the Emergency Measures Act an "astonishing power grab."
A case before the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador is questioning whether provinces have a constitutional right to deny entry to Canadian citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also in the news
- RCMP called to P.E.I. premier's home Friday.
- P.E.I.'s seasonal residents a concern for N.B., but manageable, said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.
- Sport leaders on P.E.I. held a virtual conference this week with the Chief Public Health Office to discuss resume activities.
- Here's how some P.E.I. businesses prepared to reopen Friday as the province enters a new phase of easing restrictions.
- The pandemic won't stop the annual Women's Institute roadside cleanup.
- A program to offer respite activities to hundreds of students with special needs is going well, says a school official.
- Liquor sales could be down in a poor tourist season. More than a quarter of 2019's sales were in July and August.
- Two Charlottetown fabric stores are finding new customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but still developing ways of making their business work in the new reality.
- Here is information for living with the COVID-19 pandemic on P.E.I. — including information on government relief programs, physical distancing measures, and essential health services.
- Here are charts tracking COVID-19 numbers and a timeline of COVID-19-related events on P.E.I.